published Friday, March 18th, 2011

Madison Square Gardeners spread joy, one stage at a time


What: Madison Square Gardeners, Smack Daniels and Husky Burnette.

When: 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: JJ’s Bohemia, 231 M.L. King Blvd.

Admission: $5.

Phone: 266-1400.

Venue website:


2011: “Teeth of Champions”

2010: “Taste the Thunder”

2010: “Tune It Up, Dime It Out”

2009: “Don’t Name the Pig”


The Madison Square Gardeners began working in 2009 on a series of EP releases to give their fans a constant stream of new material. The fourth, and final, EP will be released this fall, said lead singer Aaron Lee Tasjan.


Q&A with Aaron Lee Tasjan


Some bands seek to win audiences over with flashy special effects or outrageous costumes. All the Madison Square Gardeners have to do is grin.

“I know it’s not always the most ... artistically hip thing to be happy, but we are,” said Aaron Lee Tasjan, the lead singer of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based rock sextet.

“We’re just happy to be in a world of music and making music and being around other musicians,” he added. “It’s all kind of based around this joy of playing music. The songs and the live show reflect that.”

The Gardeners have plenty to be happy about. The group formed in 2007 as a cover band composed of sidemen from other groups. In 2008, they began working on their first record, “Don’t Name the Pig,” which included their biggest hits, “My Ex-Girlfriend” and “Everybody’s Girl,” the former of which was named 2009’s Song of the Year by

Tasjan said his primary thrust onstage is to connect with the audience through sincerity and honesty in his delivery. Tuesday, he will put that philosophy to the test when he takes the stage at JJ’s Bohemia alongside New Jersey-based Smack Daniels and local blues artist Husky Burnette.

Although the Gardeners began as a fun side project, Tasjan said playing in MSG has become their sole focus.

“Madison Square Gardeners has moved to the forefront of our lives as a priority,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything at this point, as crazy as it seems for me to say. I don’t make much money at it, but it’s really become my favorite thing to do in the world.”

MSG’s sound is heavily influenced by the straightforward, no-frills rock of artists such as Tom Petty and Drivin’ N Cryin’, whose lead singer, Kevn Kinney, is Tasjan’s close friend and mentor.

Just like his major influences, Tasjan said the Gardeners make up for their lack of over-the-top production by exuding the infectious joy they feel onstage.

“What’s cool about it is that the joy just kind of radiates from the music that we make because we all love doing it so much,” he said. “We’re not like Spoon or Radiohead or MGMT where we have some crazy awesome production element, but to be honest, at the end of the day ... I would still rather listen to [Petty’s] ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ 600 times.”

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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